Windsor

Windsor to save streetcar tracks unearthed in roundabout dig

Construction started Thursday morning, but was momentarily halted when crews found the track, which is said to be 100-years-old running from Windsor to Amherstberg, under the asphalt.

Nick Papadatos, owner of Nick's Auto Clinic, is worried construction will derail his business

Construction started Thursday morning, but was momentarily halted when crews found the track, which is said to be 100-years-old running from Windsor to Amherstberg, under the asphalt. (Rima Hamadi)

Work on the new roundabout in Windsor's west-end neighbourhood of Sandwich derailed almost immediately Thursday morning when crews unearthed old trolly tracks buried under the city streets. 

Long-time Sandwich resident Terrence Kennedy went to watch the construction and saw workers had discovered the 100-year-old tracks that were once part of the historic Sandwich, Windsor and Amherstburg Railway system, which became the city's public transit in 1887.

"The workers had to decide what their next move was because they couldn't go too deep without hitting the tracks," Kennedy said. 

Long-time Sandwich Towne resident Terrence Kennedy watched city workers break ground at the roundabout construction, only to be stopped soon after by the train tracks. (Rima Hamadi)

Mayor Drew Dilkens announced the discovery on social media, saying the city will preserve what it can of the old rail line. 

Construction workers on site knew there was a possibility of coming across the tracks, but many were surprised to discover them on University Avenue. Some of the tracks were still in place, with steel, wood, and red brick materials holding them together. 

Kennedy, who warned city politicians they would likely uncover the tracks during a dig, called the mayor's office Thursday morning, hoping to have the rail line preserved.

"It's important to let people know this part of Canada actually had one of the first trolley systems here," Kennedy said.

Derailing business?

The roundabout plan has been stricken with controversy ever since the city came up with the idea to erect a life-size statue of two iconic heroes from the War of 1812 in the centre of it.

Critics of the plan slammed politicians for agreeing to put the bronze figures of General Isaac Brock and Chief Tecumseh in the centre of the roundabout, saying the monument would be unsafe, inaccessible and could make the neighbourhood look like the back end of a horse. 

Another issue arose after construction began this week. Nick Papadatos, owner of Nick's Auto Clinic, is worried the work will detour traffic away from his shop.  

Nick's Auto Clinic has been on the corner of University Avenue and Riverside Drive for 30 years. (Rima Hamadi)

His auto shop has been on the corner of University Avenue and Riverside Drive for 30 years, and tends to get a lot of his clientele from people driving by.

"At first my heart sunk, because I knew it would affect our business and our ability to conduct business," said Papadatos.

He fears people won't be able to access his shop, or it'll be too "confusing" to go through the detours. He also expects to lose most of that business these next few months.

Papadatos hopes business will pick up after the roundabout is complete, bringing more traffic to the neighbourhood. 

Papadatos fears people won't be able to access his shop, or it'll be too "confusing" to go through the detours. (Rima Hamadi)

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